Dell Optiplex 790 review

Price when reviewed

We’ve been regularly impressed by the practical designs of Dell’s OptiPlex range, but the new OptiPlex 790 is a novelty – it’s one of the smallest business PCs we’ve seen.

Though it may look like a toy, it’s far from flimsy. Businesslike plastic façade aside, the chassis is built from sturdy sheet metal. Its solid construction and matte finish give reassurance that the OptiPlex will withstand the knocks and scuffs of office life as well as its larger cousins.

It has a decent amount of power too. Our review sample featured a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2400S – the suffix signifying the low-power version of Intel’s 32nm chip. It still has Turbo Boost though, with one core able to reach a maximum of 3.3GHz. In our Real World Benchmarks the system achieved an overall score of 0.7, indicating plenty of power for desktop applications – though it’s some distance behind the 0.9 and above we’d expect from a full-power Core i5-2500 system.

Dell Optiplex 790

The integrated HD Graphics 2000 chip is also more than ample for office tasks, but it won’t allow for after-hours gaming. It proved a little shaky when running 1080p clips, too, although 720p footage played flawlessly.

Still, the big advantage of this lightweight CPU is very low power consumption. Using an inline power meter we recorded our review system idling at only 15W, rising to a still frugal 51W during stress tests.

Another interesting component is the Seagate Momentus XT hard disk – a hybrid drive offering 500GB of platter-based storage, supplemented with 4GB of solid-state memory as a hard disk cache. It’s a similar idea to Intel’s Smart Response Technology (ISRT), featured in the recently released Z68 chipset. The real-world effectiveness of such caching systems isn’t always fully captured by benchmarks, but in our tests the Momentus XT achieved average large-file write and read speeds of 152.3MB/sec and 136.8MB/sec. That’s perfectly fast enough for business use, but some way behind our A-List favourite, Samsung’s all-mechanical Spinpoint F3 1TB, which managed 208MB/sec and 138MB/sec.


Warranty3yr collect and return 3yr NBD warranty

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity500GB
RAM capacity4.00GB


CPU familyIntel Core i5
CPU nominal frequency2.50GHz
Processor socketLGA 1155
HSF (heatsink-fan)Dell proprietary


MotherboardDell proprietary
Conventional PCI slots free0
Conventional PCI slots total0
PCI-E x16 slots free0
PCI-E x16 slots total0
PCI-E x8 slots free0
PCI-E x8 slots total0
PCI-E x4 slots free0
PCI-E x4 slots total0
PCI-E x1 slots free0
PCI-E x1 slots total0
Internal SATA connectors2
Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec


Memory typeDDR3
Memory sockets free0
Memory sockets total2

Graphics card

Graphics cardIntel HD 2000
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards?no
3D performance settingLow
Graphics chipsetIntel HD 2000
DVI-I outputs0
HDMI outputs0
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
DisplayPort outputs1
Number of graphics cards1

Hard disk

Hard diskSeagate Momentus XT
Hard disk usable capacity465GB
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Spindle speed7,200RPM
Cache size32MB


Optical disc technologyDVD writer


ChassisDell proprietary
Case formatsmall form-factor
Dimensions65 x 233 x 236mm (WDH)

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays0

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream)7
PS/2 mouse portno
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2

Front ports

Front panel USB ports2
Front panel memory card readerno

Operating system and software

OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery disc, recovery partition

Noise and power

Idle power consumption15W
Peak power consumption51W

Performance tests

3D performance (crysis) low settings24fps
3D performance settingLow
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.70
Responsiveness score0.66
Media score0.78
Multitasking score0.65

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